The impact of light poverty

In 2016, about 1.7 billion people, or more than a fifth of the world’s population, are without access to electricity and modern lighting. This is especially evident in developing countries, for example some South African countries like Rwanda and Burundi, which have barely passed 1% for their electrification threshold, meaning that less than 1% of the population have access to any energy. The distribution of energy to developing countries is a major issue, and it is a visionary idea to think that it is possible for these countries to have access to energy, so the introduction of this idea, our Woven Plastic Window, is a sustainable and efficient method to allow citizens in developing countries who live in slums or in small enclosures with a lack of sunlight, can implement this creation and have access to the light they need.

Our group has developed the Woven Plastic Window, a sustainable, cheap and efficient method which can be introduced into places such as slums and hovels for the allowance of natural light into these homes. Clear plastic strips have been woven together to provide an airtight foundation, meaning that natural events such as rain can be kept out of these places, also involves two zippers on either side of the window so that air can be let in, and allowing natural light into the household.

The allowance of natural light into typically dark hovels provides benefits to the people affected by light poverty. Humans need exposure to light because sunlight provides ultraviolet B rays, which help the body to produce vitamins, especially vitamin D, which maintains healthy bones and teeth. The use of the Woven Plastic Window in developing countries allows for this natural light, especially if there are babies or elderly who aren’t able to exit their homes at their will, this allows them to induce the right amounts of Vitamin D. Due to light poverty in developing countries, the Window further allows for moonlight to be shone into the houses, so that there is no need for an external energy source, but so the people living in these houses have access to a natural light source at night. 

The joint benefit of preventing natural forces such as rain while allowing natural light in provides more safety for the people in the households. A lack of protection against rain leaves people more susceptible to infections, and due to a lack of medical care in developing countries. In developing countries like Sub-Saharan South Africa, the child mortality rate is 175 per 1000, compared to 6 per 1000 in industrialized countries. Many of these deaths are due to preventable diseases that can’t be dealt with due to a lack of medical care, and the prevention of natural forces such as rain or dirt entering houses through the windows, may mean a prevention of child mortality.

The Woven Plastic Window is a cheap and sustainable method of providing safety and natural light specifically for individuals in developing countries who do not have access to proper housing, living in slums or hovels with little to no access to natural light whilst they are inside their households. Having natural light inside allows parents with an average fertility rate of 4.3 in Africa to work and occupy kids in the safety of their own houses, providing a slight benefit to their lives.


The Woven Plastic Window is a sustainable window made from plastic bottles and some wood to provide natural light to otherwise typically dark hovels, and preventing the natural forces from affecting people in these households. The window is supported by a wooden frame, which is to be placed into a space in the wall of one of these homes. The wooden frame provides a sustainable method for supporting the Woven Plastic so it stays firm in place. The plastic strips that are interwoven are taken from plastic bottles, ensuring that a sustainable and efficient method is used to benefit the people in these developing nations. The plastic strips from the recyclable bottles are woven together in a tight formation so that the window is airtight, so that the rain and other natural forces are prevented from entering homes, and the addition of two zippers on either side of the window means that another source of external air is available to the people in their homes.

The wooden frame of the structure means that it can efficiently fit into the space it is desired to go into, so that it is firmly in place and not flimsy.

The use of plastic woven strips ensures the airtight nature of the window, making sure that nothing is able to get into the household.

The zippers on either side of the plastic woven strips provide an efficient way for an external air supply to be let into the household, in case it gets too stuffy.

The efficient nature of the creation, using sustainable resources, is evident by looking at the supplies used:

The market price of each object:

8x 1.25L soft drink bottles ($0.75 each) from Woolworths

4x Open-End Natural Zippers ($3.48 each) from LinCraft

Total cost= $19.92

N.B. The real price would be much less as these products were purchased at the store price. We would actually be purchasing the materials at wholesale price or straight from the manufacturer. Also all items are also recyclable and therefore can be acquired second hand and cost free. 


8x 1.25L soft drink bottles

4x Open-End Natural Zippers

1x recycled piece of wood

1x Hacksaw

1x Hot glue gun

1x Cordless drill

1x Plastic rolling tool (we made this)

  • 1x recycled piece of wood
  • 1x recycled razor from sharpener
  • 2x nails
  • 24x washers

To make the window, we first emptied and stripped the bottles, so that they were clear. We then created a mechanism involving washers and a razor, and though a small incision made 

The process

To make the window, we first emptied and stripped the bottles, so that they were clear. We then created a mechanism involving washers and a razor, and cut the bottom off of the bottles so it looked like a cylinder, and though a small incision made at the bottom of the bottle, it was threaded through the razor device and made into plastic strips.



After the plastic strips were made, they were cut into strips of varying length, either 30cm or 23cm, to fulfil the different dimensions of the wooden frame we are using to sustain the structure of the plastic.

The wooden frame was cut and sanded out of a wooden plank, and contains the plastic strips, which are attached to the frame using hot glue.



A second set of plastic strips are woven through the plastic strips initially in the wooden frame, to provide an airtight creation.


After the second set of plastic strips had been woven in, another wooden frame was hot-glued on in order to reinforce the structure of the device. Final Creation


Detailed process:

  1. Make the tool which cuts the plastic into strips
    1. Cut a piece` of wood to desired dimensions
    2. Place 11 washers on the wood and drill a nail through the hole and into the wood
    3. Place another 11 washers on the wood and do the same process but 5mm to the side
    4. Place the razor in between two of the washers at a height that suits the width of the plastic that you prefer (ours were 12mm wide)
  2. Cut off the top and bottom of a 1.25L empty bottle, so that the shape is a cylinder
  3. Make a small incision in the bottle and thread the plastic though the Plastic Stripping Tool
  4. Do this for each of the 8 bottles
  5. Make a frame for the window
  6. Cut the plastic strips into even amounts
  7. Hot Glue the ends of the strips to the wooden frame vertically
  8. Thread /weave though the other pieces of plastic until there are no more gaps
  9. Use a hot glue gun to stick on a backing piece
  10. For model 2.0 (attach zippers into the weaving that allow the window to regulate airflow and heat)